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Entries in Conjoined (8)

Friday
Dec212012

Conjoined Twins Separated in Time for Christmas

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Twins Allison June and Amelia Lee Tucker sat on Santa’s lap at just 10 months old.  The jolly man in the red suit held one girl in each arm.

It was a sight that would have been impossible a few weeks ago because the girls were born joined at the chest.  It took a team of 40 doctors working seven hours to separate them.

On Monday, Allison -- the smaller of the two -- went home.  Amelia will stay in the hospital through the holidays.

Both girls are expected to live full, healthy lives.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

Conjoined Twins Say They Have a 'Normal Life'

Courtesy TLC(NEW YORK) -- Abby and Brittany Hensel are close -- very close.  They may have two separate brains, hearts and sets of lungs, but they share everything else, including, as they say, "a normal life ... whatever that is."

The 22-year-olds from rural Minnesota are identical conjoined twins and their physiology has never stood in the way.  There are compromises that have to be made -- Abby controls the right side of the body and Brittany the left -- but they move with remarkable ease, riding a bike, dancing at parties and even driving a car.

Their updated story, Abby & Brittany, told in documentary form when they were 12 and again at 16, will air Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 10 p.m. on TLC.

When the twins were born in 1990, their parents were told the babies might not survive the night.  But by age 6, they were appearing on Oprah and the cover of Life magazine.

"People have been curious about us since we were born, for obvious reasons," say the twins in the first episode of the eight-week series.  "But our parents never let us use that as an excuse.  We were raised to believe we could do anything we wanted to do."

"The most amazing thing about us is we are like everyone else," they chime together.

The TLC docu-series follows the women's social lives as they prepare to graduate from Minnesota's Bethel College and embark on travel to Europe searching for a teaching job.

Conjoined twins occur once out of every 200,000 live births, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, but about 40 to 60 percent of them are stillborn and only about 35 percent survive one day.

Girls seem to do better medically.  About 70 percent of conjoined twins who survive are female.

Conjoined twins are genetically identical, and are, therefore, always the same sex.  They develop from the same fertilized egg, and they share the same amniotic cavity and placenta.

"All conjoined twinning is really uncommon," says Dr. Christopher Moir, a pediatric surgeon and medical director at the Mayo Clinic's Children's Center.  "But the chance of a mother delivering a set of conjoined twins and their surviving is one in a million."

Conjoining occurs in the earliest weeks of gestation, according to Moir, "sometimes before the mother even knows she is pregnant."

There are no genetic or environmental influences that cause conjoining, he says, "just a happy accident of embryos."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec142011

Chilean Conjoined Twins Successfully Separated

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(SANTIAGO, Chile) -- Ten-month-old conjoined twin girls from Chile face perhaps the most grueling fight of their young lives as they recover from separation surgery that doctors successfully completed early Wednesday, all while the entire nation watched on TV and the Internet.

Doctors separated the girls at the thorax, abdomen and pelvis. The Luis Calvo Mackenna Hospital in Santiago said surgeons are now closing up each girl’s wounds.

The babies, named Maria Paz and Maria Jose, have undergone previous operations to separate their legs, urinary tracts, pulmonary systems and other body parts.

Their parents, Jessica Navarrete and Roberto Paredes, waited anxiously during the lengthy procedure, which began Tuesday.

One of the biggest challenges the surgical team had to face was blood loss, but Navarrete and Paredes made a public plea for blood donations, which helped doctors deal with the excessive bleeding.

Doctors knew this last operation would be very delicate, and very dangerous.

“It’s very complex, because they are extensively joined from the neck to the pelvis and passing through the legs.  So it’s a very complicated operation,” Dr. Hector Olguin said.

Surgeons at Mackenna Hospital have successfully separated three other sets of conjoined twins. A fourth set, however, died as a result of cardiac complications.

One out of every 200,000 live births around the world is a set of conjoined twins, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The odds of survival are low -- about 40 to 60 percent are stillborn -- and, overall, only about 5 to 25 percent of conjoined twins will survive.

Most conjoined twins are girls, and girls are also three times more likely to be born alive.

But Maria Paz and Maria Jose have already defied some of the biggest odds, and their parents believe they will defy the others as well. “We are going to come out of this,” Navarrete said, “and it will be wonderful when we are together.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov012011

Conjoined Twin Girls Successfully Separated

Conjoined twins Angelica and Angelina Sabuco shortly before surgery with their aunt. Courtesy Sabuco Family(STANFORD, Calif.) -- Angelica and Angelina Sabuco, the two-year-old twin girls born connected at the chest and abdomen, successfully underwent separation surgery on Tuesday at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

Doctors told local media the surgery went well and "things basically could not have gone better."

One of the surgeons, Dr. Matias Bruzoni, said "the liver was the toughest part." The girls shared the liver, diaphragms, breast bones and chest, and abdominal wall muscles.

Doctors said the fact the girls' hearts are separate apart from the tips made the operation safer and easier.

The girls will spend about four or five days in the intensive care unit, then about another week in a regular hospital room. After that, they will head home to San Jose, Calif. with their family.

While their mother, Ginady Sabuco, is overjoyed the surgery went well, it was an agonizing two-year journey from learning her babies were conjoined to seeing them finally able to live as two separate little girls.

She found out her baby girls were joined at the chest and abdomen, a condition called thoraco-omphalopagus, when she was seven months pregnant. The news was even tougher to take because at the time, she and her son were living in the Philippines while her husband was working in San Jose.

Sabuco and her children came to the U.S. in September 2010, and a couple of months later, doctors at Packard Children's started evaluating the girls. After months of tests and preliminary procedures, doctors said the twins were ready for separation surgery, but warned that if one twin died, the other would die within hours.

While the hospital wouldn't discuss the cost of the surgery, they said part of the expenses were paid for by the family's medical insurance.

Doctors say the twins need to be separated in order to prevent future health problems, including muscular and skeletal deformities and the psychological stresses of being conjoined.

According to Packard Children's, only about six separation surgeries are done every year in the U.S. Most conjoined twins never survive pregnancy, and only about 25 percent of those who are born will live.

ABC News reported back in September that there have only been about two dozen sets of conjoined twins in the world who were successfully separated. If the surgery goes well, Angelica and Angelina will overcome huge odds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct312011

Conjoined Twins to Be Surgically Separated

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- The joy of expecting twins suddenly turned to despair when Ginady Sabuco of San Jose, Calif., was seven months pregnant.

That's when she found out her baby girls were joined at the chest and abdomen, a condition called thoraco-omphalopagus. The news was even tougher to take because at the time, she and her son were living in the Philippines while her husband was working in San Jose.

"I was asking God: Why us, why me?" said Sabuco, according to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, where the girls, now 2-year-olds named Angelica and Angelina, are scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to separate them.

Sabuco and her children came to the U.S. in September 2010, and a couple of months later, doctors at Packard Children's started evaluating the girls. After months of tests and preliminary procedures, doctors say the twins are ready for separation surgery and expect it to go very well.

While the hospital wouldn't discuss the cost of the surgery, they said part of the expenses will be paid for by the family's medical insurance.

The surgical team, led by pediatric surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman and pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Peter Lorenz, will separate the girls' diaphragms, livers and bowels and will then reconstruct their chest and abdominal walls using a special plate. Their hearts are almost entirely separate, and while their intestines are fused in some places, their digestive systems function independently.

"The plates will dissolve over about a year and a half," said Lorenz. "That gives the grafted bone plenty of time to fuse, so eventually the girls will have normal bones and stable chests."

After surgery, Angelica and Angelina will recover for about four or five days in an intensive care unit and will then go to a regular hospital room for another week. They will then return home to San Jose, where Sabuco looks forward to them being two very ordinary twin sisters.

Doctors say the twins need to be separated in order to prevent future health problems, including muscular and skeletal deformities and the psychological stresses of being conjoined.

According to Packard Children's, only about six separation surgeries are done every year in the United States. Most conjoined twins never survive pregnancy, and only about 25 percent of those who are born will live.

ABC News reported back in September that there have only been about two dozen sets of conjoined twins in the world who were successfully separated. If the surgery goes well, Angelica and Angelina will overcome huge odds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Conjoined Twins: Doctors Debate Ethics of Separation Surgery

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- The decision to separate conjoined twins would be easy if it guaranteed a better life for both babies.  But the possibility of one or both twins dying or becoming severely disabled because of the surgery or the separation's effects weighs heavily on parents and doctors, according to a new report.

Two-year-old twins joined at the head were the focus of the report on the bioethics of separation surgery.  The girls, who were unnamed, shared kidneys and veins that drain blood from their brains, making separation surgery a risky undertaking unlikely to benefit both of them equally.  But leaving them joined could also threaten their health, not to mention their independence.

"In this case, every ethical principle is sort of turned on its head," said Dr. Devra Becker, a plastic surgeon at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland and senior author of the report published Monday in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal.  Those principles, including informed consent, the duty of doctors to heal and avoid harm, and the tenet that health care resources should be distributed fairly, form the framework of Becker's report.

The girls traveled with their parents to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland from Italy for separation surgery.  They are craniopagus twins -- the rarest form of conjunction affecting one in 2.5 million births.  Based on published cases, the odds of both twins surviving separation surgery are 33 percent -- the same odds for both twins dying.

"Few will debate the benefit of separation if the surgical risk is [zero].  Similarly, few will advocate for separation if the procedure guarantees the deaths of the twins," Becker and colleagues wrote in the report.  "The ethics of separation becomes more complex when the morbidity of separation lies between [zero] and 100 percent or if one twin will benefit more from the separation than the other."

Following the risky, not to mention expensive procedure, the larger twin would need a kidney transplant or lifelong dialysis to live.  The smaller twin would be at risk for brain damage.  But left together, the girls were at risk for kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

The procedure could also give both twins the chance for a normal life.

After thoroughly weighing the risks and benefits, the Italian twins' parents and the medical team decided to move forward with the procedure.  The larger twin, who would be left without kidneys, would go on dialysis until she was strong enough for a transplant.  And the risk of brain damage in the smaller twin would be minimized by doing the procedure in stages.  The benefits of separation for both twins, both medical and otherwise, outweighed the risks.

But during the procedure, the surgeons noticed the layer of tissue covering the twins' brains was dangerously tight -- a twist that tipped the risk-benefit scale.  The surgery was aborted, and both twins recovered.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

Chicago-Area Woman Gives Birth to Conjoined Twin Girls

Photodisc/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Despite a low probability of survival, and facing as much criticism as support, a Chicago-area woman gave birth last week to identical conjoined twin girls.

Amanda Schulten, a 21-year-old single mother from Marengo, Illinois, said on her blog that she was determined to give birth to the twins despite knowing they would have no chance of a long or normal life.

The twins are conjoined girls, fully connected at the torso, sharing a heart, two lungs and two kidneys. They share two legs, and they each have one good arm.

"God is good and he knows what he is doing," Schulten wrote on her blog three days after giving birth on Sept. 6 -- more than a month premature. "I'm so honored to call them my children."

The University of Chicago Medical Center confirms that the infants were delivered on Sept. 6, but wouldn't divulge details on their health, citing the family's privacy.

Conjoined twins are still a relatively rare phenomenon. They're identical twins whose bodies are joined in utero, resulting in a fertilized egg that begins to divide into identical twins but never fully separates.

It's estimated to occur in 1 in 100,000 births, with approximately half stilllborn, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The overall survival rate for conjoined twins is approximately 25 percent, the AAP says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

Conjoined Twins Survive 13-Hour Separation Surgery

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- At 8 months old, Joshua and Jacob Spates continue to fight but, according to doctors, they have already beaten the odds.

They were born in January at Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, three weeks early and conjoined.  The brothers were attached to each other at the lower spine and pelvis, an unusual connection that made them what are known as pygopagus twins.  Only 15 percent of conjoined twins are connected in this way and, even before their birth, doctors could see in X-rays of their mother’s womb the challenges that would come should they dare to attempt separation surgery.

Yet, surgeons decided to go forward with the life-or-death operation last month.  When doctors finally separated them on Aug. 28 after a 13-hour surgery, they became one of only two dozen sets of conjoined twins in the world to be successfully separated.  The operation involved the delicate detachment of the spinal cord and column, as well as muscles and other tissues.

Joshua and Jacob are not completely out of the woods yet.  They are expected to remain at the hospital for some time while they recover, and they will receive clinical care and rehabilitation therapy until they are healthy enough to go home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio